BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – “The government is working on a carefully thought-out plan towards the reopening of the country and restoring livelihoods, while at the same time protecting the lives of citizens and residents,” said Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris.
“Our strategic plan has always been to strike that delicate balance between the health imperatives imposed by COVID-19 and the need to contain and reverse the worst economic recession in a lifetime,” said the Prime Minister. “As we work our plan in a meticulously careful way prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) consistent with our unique lived realities. We are reminded that we cannot protect livelihoods without protecting lives.”
To date, the local agriculture sector – crop, livestock and fishing – has rebounded; the manufacturing sector is nearing its pre COVID-19 level of production and employment; and the construction sector is in full swing with work continuing on major capital projects such as the multi-purpose facility at Lodge/Ottley’s and the West Line Bus Terminal.
“The only industry not fully engaged is the tourism sector,” said Dr. Harris. There are a number of risks associated with the opening of the borders to commercial flights and visitors,” said Dr. Harris. “These include the introduction of more COVID-19 cases that can spoil St. Kitts and Nevis’ low risk status. They could reduce the country’s attraction as a safe place to travel, overwhelming the country’s capacity to quarantine safely, overwhelm the nation’s health facilities particularly the JNF Hospital, and increase the risk of deaths from the virus.
“None of these outcomes are desirable,” said Dr. Harris. “That is why we have outlined our plan for the careful phased opening up of our tourist plant. We started with the opening up of our restaurants first without in-dining, then, we allowed dining in restaurants.
“We relaxed restrictions for bars on the strip and elsewhere while insisting on health protocols to protect each other. The Ministry of Tourism is working with key stakeholders like the Task Force, SCASPA, NASPA, taxi operators to fine tune protocols for the eventual opening up of the tourism sector. Training, I am advised, is ongoing.”
Prime Minister Harris further noted that part of his government’s plan is to use the disruption in the global aviation and tourism industry to plan for the reopening of the sector.
“In this regard, the Task Force attached to the NEOC has been working diligently with critical stakeholders, our hotels, restaurants, taxi operations, etc. to prepare them for the new norms of the industry,” said Dr. Harris. “The St Kitts Tourism Authority has been mandated to work with the Task Force and to follow-up with the tourism stakeholders to ensure the time is well spent.”